It took only a few minutes Sunday night for Kyle Schwarber to calm down after blowing his top on national television over home-plate umpire Ángel Hernández’s strike zone.
Clearly, though, the Phillies slugger thought he’d been wronged.
In that case, maybe the events of the third inning Monday night were some form of karma. Schwarber hit what looked to all in Citizens Bank Park like a rally-ending flyout to right-center field. Expected batting average on the ball, according to Statcast: .210.
But neither Colorado Rockies right fielder Charlie Blackmon nor center fielder Randal Grichuk settled under it. The ball fell between them, Schwarber was credited with a two-run double, and the Phillies seized a one-run lead en route to an 8-2 victory before an announced crowd of 20,130.
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“At last something went to our side,” said Jean Segura, who also had issues with Hernández on Sunday night.
Said pitcher Kyle Gibson: “I think we were due. That’s a good way to put it lightly. Yeah, we were due.”
Indeed, Schwarber needed that. The Phillies did, too. Their three-run rally in the third inning snapped a 17-inning scoreless drought. They won for only the fourth time in 13 games.
Amid their sluggish start, the Phillies have insisted they were one fortunate break short of getting hot. It was only a matter of time, they said. And while Schwarber’s fly ball didn’t exactly bust the levee and start a tsunami of offense, the Phillies did add on late in the game.
Bryce Harper cracked a fifth-inning solo homer against Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland. Harper hit a sacrifice fly to kick-start a four-run seventh in which Rhys Hoskins scored on a wild pitch and two runs came in on an error by Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon.
Hoskins, who rode in on a wretched 2-for-24 skid, singled to start the big third inning and notched his first three-hit game since Aug. 5. Ironman catcher J.T. Realmuto got two hits, including a two-out RBI double in the third inning that ended the scoreless streak.
And then there was Schwarber, the $79 million slugger whose first at-bat of the season resulted in a leadoff homer on opening day. Since then, there has been mostly frustration. He came into the series with the Rockies batting .169, with a 30.8% strikeout rate.
Schwarber’s ninth-inning outburst Sunday night, when he slammed his bat down, spiked his helmet, and gestured wildly with both hands at Hernández after getting rung up on strikes, was the tip of the iceberg.
“I told him he was smarter tonight,” manager Joe Girardi said, poised to deliver a punchline. “He hit it where they can’t see it.”
Girardi is much funnier when the Phillies score a bunch of runs. They’ve scored more than four in only four of the last 11 games.
“There’s not much panic going on in here,” Gibson said. “We just have this feeling that when we get going it’s going to be tough sledding for the visiting team that comes in here.”
Segura put it another way.
“You can’t stink forever,” he said.
Whatever the case, don’t tell Harper about karma. He doesn’t believe in it.
“It’s just part of the game. It just happens,” Harper said. “We’re going to say it happens for a reason, or he’s hit so many balls hard that it dropped. It’s just how it happens sometimes. It just happened to help our team score two runs. We’ll take the double out of it.”
And maybe it’s the start of something good.
Not so Familia
Six nights after allowing a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning of a gut-punch loss in Colorado, reliever Jeurys Familia flipped the script on the Rockies.
With the Phillies leading by two runs in the seventh inning, Familia inherited a two-on, none-out jam from Seranthony Domínguez. He got Elias Díaz to fly to right field and Brendan Rodgers to roll into a double play, acrobatically turned by shortstop Johan Camargo.
After giving up a homer to Atlanta’s Kelly Johnson on the first pitch of a game on April 8, 2009, Jamie Moyer claimed that many hitters take the initial pitch out of “professional courtesy,” a supposedly unwritten rule with which few people were familiar.
The Rockies’ Connor Joe apparently hadn’t heard of it, either.
Joe swatted Kyle Gibson’s first pitch of the game out to left center. Grichuk led off the second inning with a homer. But they were the only hits allowed by Gibson through the first four innings.
Gibson also held the Rockies scoreless from Grichuk’s shot until he exited with two outs in the sixth inning. It was Gibson’s second consecutive solid start against Colorado. He has a 3.47 ERA in four starts overall.
For the second time in six days, Zach Eflin (0-1, 5.27 ERA) will face Rockies right-hander Germán Márquez (0-0, 4.67) at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday. The Phillies got to Márquez for four runs on eight hits in six innings last Wednesday in Colorado.